Los Abuelos de la Nada

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Los Abuelos de la Nada
Origin Buenos Aires,  Argentina
Genres Rock, funk rock, new wave, reggae fusion, psychedelic rock (early), folk rock (early)
Years active 1967—1971
1981—1988
Labels Interdisc
Polygram
Associated acts Andrés Calamaro, Charly García, Los Twist
Past members Miguel Abuelo
Cachorro López
Andrés Calamaro
Gustavo Bazterrica
Daniel Melingo
Willy Crook
Polo Corbella
Kubero Díaz
Marcelo "Chocolate" Fogo
Juan del Barrio
Pato Loza
Jorge Polanuer
Alfredo Desiata

Los Abuelos de la Nada (The Grandparents of Nothingness) were an Argentine new wave/rock band that underwent several incarnations, all of them led by singer and songwriter Miguel Abuelo.

Career[edit]

1967–1971: Early years and the first Abuelos[edit]

In the mid-1960s, a club in Barrio Norte, Buenos Aires named La Cueva was the focal point for rock and roll. Some of the acts were in English, but others were experimenting Spanish language lyrics, notably Tanguito. The regulars of La Cueva also included poetry buffs and young people willing to escape the routines of urban life; some would form the core of the Buenos Aires hippie scene of the late 1960s.

Miguel Peralta was living in the Norte hostel at that time, and was lured into the scene by fellow poetry buff Pipo Lernoud. When a record label, Mandioca, was created specifically to record Spanish language rock, Peralta arranged for an interview with recording executive Ben Molar where he claimed, untruthfully, that he had a band called Los Abuelos de la Nada (the Grandparents of Nothingness) which was ready to enter the studio. The name was taken from a passage in Severo Arcángelo, a book by Leopoldo Marechal. Since Molar acquiesced, Peralta went on and assembled a band, featuring friends Claudio Gabis on guitar, Alberto Lara on bass, Héctor "Pomo" Lorenzo on drums, and Eduardo "Mayoneso" on keyboards. Their first single, Diana Divaga (Diana wanders), featured psychedelic influences. About this time, Miguel started using Abuelo as his artistic surname.

After Gabis left (he was attending college and was reluctant to commit to the band), Abuelo drafted Norberto Napolitano (Pappo). After some more psychedelic-oriented fare, Pappo started nudging the band in the direction of blues, causing Abuelo to leave. Over time, Pappo's project mutated into Pappo's Blues.

Abuelo tried to create new bands, and for a short time was singer of El Huevo (the Egg), which would later become the core of Pescado Rabioso. Abuelo took off to Barcelona in 1971 to try to re-create his career. Abuelo spent ten years in Europe, until bass player Cachorro López, who was a popular session musician with reggae and funk bands, convinced him to return to Argentina for a second incarnation of the Abuelos.

1981–83: Comeback and the new beginning[edit]

The new band had Abuelo as lead singer, Cachorro López on bass guitar, Andrés Calamaro on vocals and keyboards, Gustavo Bazterrica on guitar, Daniel Melingo on sax, and Polo Corbella on the drums.

The 1982 Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas/Guerra del Atlántico Sur) was a catalyst for Argentine rock, as songs with English-language lyrics were not broadcast for several months. The band's materials were favored by radio DJs, including No te enamores nunca de aquel marinero bengalí (Never fall in love with that Bengali sailor) which grew out of improvisation during rehearsals, and Sin gamulán (Without a coat), written by Calamaro.

Charly García took the band under his wing after dissolving Serú Girán, and the Abuelos played in García's 1982 Christmas concert. García also drafted López, Melingo and Calamaro for his band, in parallel with their work for the Abuelos.

The 1982 debut album included many compositions by Abuelo-López, and a reggae hit by Calamaro's former partner Gringui Herrera, Tristezas de la ciudad (City blues).

For their 1983 album, Vasos y Besos (Glasses and Kisses), Melingo wrote his own reggae hit: Chala-man, Bazterrica contributed No se desesperen (Don't despair), and Calamaro chimed in with Mil horas (A thousand hours).

1984–85: International breakthrough, struggles and break-up[edit]

The band became popular with rockers and more pop-oriented audiences. Especially, Calamaro was favored by teenage girls looking for an "edgier" idol than balladeer Alejandro Lerner. Vasos y Besos had sold a solid 160,000 records, and was presented in a six-month country-wide tour.

Record executives arranged to send the band to Ibiza for the recording of their 1984 album Himno de mi Corazón (Hymn of my heart), became a sales hit as expected. Later that year, Melingo, who was also working with García and his own band Los Twist, and was replaced by Alfredo Desiata.

By early 1985, the band's spirits were damaged due to Bazterrica's cocaine addiction, which eventually had him fired from the band, and the rivalry between Abuelo and Calamaro for top billing.

About that time, Calamaro wrote what would be his last mega-hit with the band: Costumbres argentinas (Argentine habits). Sensing that the band was on the verge of dissolution, the band recorded a live album in the Opera theater in Buenos Aires on May 1985. For the occasion, Gringui Herrera replaced Bazterrica, Juan del Barrio reinforced Calamaro in keyboards, and Melingo played some songs as a guest musician.

This line-up played their last gig on October 1985, in the Vélez Sársfield stadium, to fulfill their contractual obligation to the "Rock and Pop" festival which featured INXS and Nina Hagen. The crowd reacted badly to the band's evident lack of motivation (the pouring rain and the badly mixed sound did not help), and Abuelo was hit in the face by a bottle hurled from the field. The band played the remainder of their set with Abuelo visibly bleeding. After the show, Los Abuelos members are disbanded indefinitely.

1986–88: Revival and Miguel Abuelo's death[edit]

With the band dissolved, Abuelo started playing small venues, harking back to his roots of poetry-influenced songwriting. Late in 1986, he and Polo Corbella hired to Kubero Díaz on guitar, Marcelo "Chocolate" Fogo on bass and Juan del Barrio on keyboards to form a new line-up, which recorded Cosas mías in 1986 with relative commercial success. After the first shows, Polo Corbella left the band, replaced by Claudio "Pato" Loza, then with the addition of Willy Crook on sax.

In late 1987, following gallbladder surgery, Miguel Abuelo was diagnosed with AIDS; terminally ill, he died from cardiac arrest a few days after his 42nd birthday. That was the end of the Abuelos as a band; the remaining members reunited several times, with different formations. Notably, Miguel's son Gato played with Calamaro, Bazterrica and Corbella in a 1997 re-union.

The rights to the Abuelos de la Nada name were offered by Abuelo's widow Krisha Bogdan to Kubero Díaz, who refused out of respect. At some point during 2001, it was reported [1] that Bogdan and Gato were fighting in court over the rights to the name and to Miguel Abuelo's unpublished recordings.

Legacy[edit]

Several compilations mastered by López were issued after the band's demise. The band eventually sold more records after its dissolution than during its successes of the 1980s. Many former Abuelos are still in the limelight, notably Calamaro, who has had a successful career in both Argentina and Spain.

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • "Diana Divaga" [Diana Rambles] (1968)
  • "En la Estación" [At The Station] -Without Miguel Abuelo- (1971)

Albums[edit]

External links[edit]